The end justifies the means
I was recently confronted with an interesting ethical question. Is it ethical to use pornography (that has been created by consenting adults who are free from duress of any kind) to raise money for environmental or other benevolent causes?
The question arose because a local environmental organisation was offered money by a group lets call them FFF that does just that. That is, FFF creates and displays pornography on the internet for a fee in order to raise money for a variety of environmental organisations and causes throughout the globe.
I dont subscribe to any religion (rather I am agnostic which means that I dont know if god exists), but I nevertheless think that sexual activity is sacred. In fact, I think the entire planet is absolutely amazing, and on this basis I think that everything is sacred.
This extension of the sacred, however, leads to another important question. Why should sex be excluded from the commodification process, if other sacred things such as land are not?
While I have no doubt that sex is sacred, I have trouble accepting that it is more sacred than land. This is arguably compatible with many traditional indigenous perspectives which have long advocated the sanctity of land. Standing from this perspective the common shopping mall becomes a blasphemy since consumer goods relentlessly prostitute land to the market mechanism of supply and demand.
While some are quick to scorn pornography, the same people are often not so quick to scorn market forces as they apply to other aspects of our lives. I would argue that those who scorn pornography on the one hand, but accept capitalism on the other hand, are on shaky ethical foundations.
If one accepts the nature of capitalism in its current form, they must accept the continual expansion of the market forces of supply and demand. While placing limits on the commodification process may be a worthy pursuit, it must be understood that it ultimately runs contrary to the laws of capitalism. For this reason it becomes untenable to accept capitalism, but reject pornography, since the commodification of sex is merely an extension of the capitalist system itself.
In summary, while pornography may not be ethical, it is no less ethical than the capitalist system itself which relentlessly commodifies the sacred. As capitalism is not going to wither away any time soon, I recommend that the local environmental organisation accept the money from FFF so that they can continue the necessary work of protecting the sacred (i.e. the environment). In my mind this is an example whereby, ethically speaking, the end justifies the means.